Mad about catnip
Resident cat Tiddles has been getting under everyones feet recently, quite literally! The poor cat always wants to be in places that he's not supposed to go. Which often involves us tripping over him as he dashes through the reception door into the cattery corridor. He also sometimes lives up to his name and 'tiddles' around our cat food bins and staff lockers.
Tiddles has been a resident with us since he was a small kitten. He is now seven years old. He is also mostly blind and has only 20% vision. To try and settle him down we gave him some catnip today which he goes mad for! Tiddles loves to roll around in, cover himself from head to toe in it and chase around reception.
Nepeta cataria (also known as catnip, catswort, or catmint) is a plant in the Lamiaceae family. The common names can also be used to refer to the Nepeta genus as a whole. The plant terpenoid nepetalactone is the main chemical constituent of the essential oil of Nepeta cataria. Nepetalactone can be extracted from catnip by steam distillation.
Nepeta cataria (and catmints) are mostly known for the behavioural effects they have on cats, not only domestic cats but also big cats. Nepeta cataria is used as a recreational substance for pet cats enjoyment, and catnip and laced-catnip products. Not all cats are affected by catnip. The common behaviours when cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, chewing it consuming much of the plant followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. Some will growl, meow, scratch, or bite the hand holding it. Some cats will eat dried catnip. Often, eating too much can cause cats to be overtly aggressive, typically making them hiss.
Nepetalactone acts as a feline attractant. Roughly half to two thirds of cats will be affected by the plant. This chemical enters the felines nose. Cats detect it through their olfactory epithelium, not through their vomeronasal organ. At the olfactory epithelium, the nepetalactone binds to one or more olfactory receptors. Some have speculated that it may mimic a cat pheromone, such as the hypothetical feline facial pheromone. However, this has not been tested. Approximately two hours after an exposure, the feline will be sensitive to another dose.